(This article by Lacey Langford originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA Premium and Life members. Learn more about the magazine here; learn more about joining MOAA here.)
Managing money is in the future of every military child. At some point, they’ll be in charge of paying rent, buying groceries, and earning an income. Why not start imparting information early in their lives?
Here are some financial fundamentals you can teach your kids.
Understanding how much money you earn and save compared to paying the expenses you incur can show kids how to set themselves up for long-term
Train your kids by helping them develop a plan for setting aside a certain amount each month for what they spend money on, such as savings, entertainment, and clothes. They can practice early with a budget to make spending decisions.
[RELATED: How to Use VA Disability Benefits to Pay for Dependents’ Education]
Setting up banking for your children is the first step for them to take ownership of their finances. As they start to receive money, a checking or savings account allows them to practice making deposits and withdrawals and balancing their accounts.
Walking them through banking tasks now will make them proficient in managing their accounts before they leave home.
Your children will need to understand how earning an income works. They’ll also need to understand any benefits that come with their job.
One way to teach your kids about income is to hire them for household jobs. Or, if your teenagers have part-time jobs, review their hiring paperwork with them and discuss the work they’re expected to do and the time involved. When they receive a paycheck, explain the taxes and deductions taken out.
Begin by letting your kids buy items they want with your supervision. As they get older and are more practiced at using debit cards, the cards can be used for recurring expenses. They can begin practicing transferring money and looking at savings from earnings or monetary gifts.
Kids should also learn about credit cards, interest charges they can incur, and the importance of paying off credit card balances. They should know about the risk of credit or debit card numbers being stolen and how to take safety measures to protect those numbers.
Teaching children about money early allows them to learn from mistakes and become more confident with financial decisions. They’ll have your help and support to practice good money skills before they leave the nest.
Lacey Langford, AFC®, is a financial coach, veteran, military spouse, and entrepreneur.
MOAA’s Financial Calculators
Whether you’re planning for retirement, buying a home, managing your investments, or more, these tools can help you make informed decisions.